Pubdate: Sat, 28 May 2016
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2016 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Note: by the Associated Press


CINCINNATI - A group Saturday ended its effort to put a medical
marijuana issue on Ohio's general election ballot.

The Ohioans for Medical Marijuana announced that organizers decided
with "a heavy heart" to halt collection of signatures to get on the
November ballot in the aftermath of passage last week by state
lawmakers of a medical marijuana legalization bill.

The proposal would bar patients from smoking marijuana or growing it
at home, but it would allow its use in vapor form for certain chronic
health conditions. It still requires Gov. John Kasich's signature.

The ballot campaign initially said the legislation would bolster their
efforts. But the statement Saturday from campaign manager Brandon
Lynaugh said that while the group still believes patients should be
allowed to grow and smoke their own marijuana, the bill is "a step
forward" and "all in all, a moderately good piece of legislation
passed by lawmakers who were pushed hard by the patient community."

Backed by the nationally active Marijuana Policy Project, the Ohio
group said the bill's final version removed red tape and regulations
that would have limited patient access. It said it will continue as an
advocate to make sure the state adheres to the legislation and will
work to improve the program.

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, welcomed the
Saturday announcement, and praised "the General Assembly's willingness
to listen and respond to the will of Ohioans." He said in statement
that the legislation that was passed is "a common-sense plan ... that
provides a system for legalizing medical marijuana that is tightly
regulated but accessible to those who need it."

The legislation had bipartisan backing, and supporters cited emotional
testimony from chronic pain sufferers and parents of sick children as
influencing their decisions.

Lawmakers fast-tracked the measure to head off the

Ohioans last year rejected a broader marijuana legalization

Sen. Jay Hottinger, a Newark Republican, opposed the legislation. He
said there is inadequate proof of the medical benefits of marijuana
and expanding access runs too many risks.

The State Department of Commerce would regulate marijuana cultivation
and distribution and requires each dispensary to employ a registered
pharmacist. The state medical board would oversee recommending doctors
and provide them with continuing education.

The bill also sets parameters for the placement of dispensaries,
including prohibiting them from being placed within 1,000 feet of a
day care facility and allowing communities to opt out of having one.
Employers who want to maintain drug-free workplaces would have immunity.  
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D